Billionaire Real Estate Investor Sam Zell’s Net Worth, His Risky Bet on Tribune Company Backfires

Sam Zell Net Worth

Am I Being Too Subtle? was written by Sam Zell, a successful American businessman and investor. After a series of massive, lucrative property purchases in the wake of the late-1970s drop in commercial property values, he became known as “the grave dancer.”

Sam was the top buyer of real estate in the United States between 1973 and 1977, and he was also an innovator and contrarian in the business and investing worlds. In a recent podcast, my friend and I discussed Zell’s life and highlighted some of our favorite moments. This article provides a more in-depth biography of Sam Zell as well as insights into his successful business practices.

Sam Zell Net Worth

When American billionaire Sam Zell passed away in May 2023 at the age of 81, he was worth $6 billion. Sam Zell amassed his fortune through the purchase and subsequent holding or sale of foreclosed commercial properties. Equity Group Investments (EGI) was his major investing firm.

Equity Office Properties Trust, his office building company, was sold to Blackstone Group in 2007 for $39 billion.

Investments by Shareholder Groups

Zell’s formal real estate investing career began in 1968 when he and Lurie created Equity Group Investments. In keeping with Zell’s “contrarian” investment approach, the company first concentrated on purchasing foreclosed properties. He looked for cheap real estate since he knew he could turn it into a lucrative business.

Equity Group Investments was sold by Zell to Blackstone for $39 billion in 2007.

Here below is a related tweet:

His timing ended up being quite fortuitous. The Great Recession of 2008-2009 followed the implosion of the real estate boom by only a year. If he had tried to sell the company a year later, he would have gotten only a fraction of what it was worth at the time.

Here are some other notable individuals whose net worth you may want to discover:

Sam Zell’s Risky Bet on Tribune Company Backfires

Sam Zell's Risky Bet on Tribune Company Backfires

A multimedia company that included the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and several television stations, the Tribune Company was acquired by Zell in 2007.

A year after the $8.2 billion transaction, the company filed for bankruptcy due to mounting debt and falling ad income. Zell’s reputation as a smart and risk-taking investor survived the bankruptcy, and his other businesses were successful. After everything was said and done, Zell lost around $300 million.

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